The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
Written in the wake of the Black Death, this book tells of how ten young noble men and women, who have escaped the plague in a country villa outside of Florence, decide to tell each other stories. Themes are playfully restated from one story to another, within an elegant framework. In 100 tales, vivid portraits of people from all stations in life are portrayed, with plots that revel in a bewildering variety of human reactions. Boccaccio's work combines the essential ingredients of narrative: fate and desire, crises and quick-thinking.